Sudanese infiltrators
Sudanese infiltrators Flash 90

The European Court of Human Rights, the European Court of Justice, and the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom have issued precedent-setting rulings stating there is no impediment to returning Sudanese from Darfur and the Nuba Hills back to their country, even by force.

A recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected an appeal filed by a Sudanese citizen of non-Arab African descent in Darfur against the Dutch government decision to deport him back to Sudan. This, after repeated rulings of the courts in the Netherlands approved the deportation process.

The court set a precedent when it ruled that "it cannot be determined that Sudanese citizens of 'non-Arab' ethnicity from Darfur are in danger if they are returned to the Sudanese capital solely on the basis of their ethnic affiliation. Accordingly, his return to Sudan would not constitute a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights" (which is based, inter alia, on the UN Refugee Convention).

In addition, the court also rejected his claim that he was in danger from the Sudanese government because he allegedly participated in a demonstration against the regime in the Hague in 2016, having nothing to do with his ethnic origin. The ruling stated that the government against which he demonstrated was replaced in the revolution in early 2019 and now controls Hartoum's Provisional Sovereignty Council, which also includes a civic coalition that supports democracy.

It is the most senior court in Europe when it comes to enforcing the European Convention on Human Rights, and is empowered to hear petitions and appeals against decisions and even rulings of senior state courts in the 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

A judgment in a similar vein was published in close proximity of one day by the Supreme Tribunal of the United Kingdom (UKUT). Its in-depth rulings in the English language regarding refugee status and asylum applications are gaining considerable weight in the eyes of state courts across the EU and even in the European Courts, the ECHR, and the ECJ.

The ruling dealt with the appeal of a Sudanese citizen, born in 1983 of ethnic origin "Nubi" (Nuba Hills), against a decision to deport him to his country. The court ruled that there was no legal problem in expelling Sudanese from the Nuba Mountains back to Hartoum, the Sudanese capital, and that they were not in danger solely on the basis of their ethnicity. Also, the security situation in the Nuba Mountains area has improved significantly and the ceasefire on the part of the government has been sustained for a long time. More importantly, the court noted that this statement was true even before the Sudanese revolution last year, but since then the political reality and human rights situation in Sudan has only improved further, and the persecution of political opponents in the government has decreased significantly.

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Finally, like the European Court of Human Rights, the tribunal noted that hundreds of thousands of people from the Nova Mountains as well as members of "non-Arab" tribes from Darfur live in the bow of the Sudanese capital. Although the living conditions there are not always optimal, they do not pose any danger solely on the basis of their ethnic origin. Therefore, even if an asylum seeker claims that we cannot return directly to the Nova Mountains region which is far from the capital, due to the local violence, there is no problem that it will be returned to Khartoum itself anyway. The court bothered to emphasize that although the ruling does not deal with people from Darfur but with asylum seekers from the Nova Mountains, the factual determinations are in principle also true for people from this area.

Since the end of 2018, the Center for Israeli Immigration Policy has released a number of reports from Western governments such as the British Ministry of the Interior, the Office of the Auditor General of Belgium and others stating that people from these areas can also be returned to Sudan. But this is the first time In the case of the European Court of Human Rights, this is no less the head of the pyramid.

It should be emphasized that European countries are returning migrant workers to Sudan and those whose asylum applications have been routinely and continuously rejected in the last two decades. But the rulings are precedent-setting because for about a decade the ruling has ruled that Darfur descendants, and the Nova Mountains specifically, cannot be forcibly returned due to their ethnic origin. Therefore, this is a 180-degree reversal in the ruling.

Over the years, Israel has granted "humanitarian status," granting temporary residency, to 2,000 Sudanese infiltrators from these areas. In a decision from August 2018, the descendants of the Nova Mountains were also included in a quota of 300 infiltrators who received similar status.

Just recently, the High Court ruled that members of a group of 600 people from Darfur who were granted group status in a 2006 Interior Minister decision should be recognized as refugees for all intents and purposes. In addition, the state has been given several months to formulate asylum applications for thousands more. In a petition filed demanding that they be granted refugee status, therefore, the court rulings have far-reaching implications both for the status of the pending applications and for the status of those who have already been granted temporary status.

Advocate Yonatan Jakubowicz, director of the Center for Israeli Immigration Policy, said that "most of the infiltrators who came to Israel over the years were considered migrant workers, but could not be forcibly returned in the absence of diplomatic relations, although more than 5,000 have already returned voluntarily. The normalization agreement of course removes this obstacle.

But already now there are voices claiming that despite the agreement, most of the infiltrators who still remain in Israel cannot be returned because they came from the Nova and Darfur areas. It is clear that the rulings, including that of the European Court of Human Rights, senior European and international courts, completely omit these claims. "Although there may be individual cases of asylum seekers who could claim to be in danger, but in general, the vast majority of Sudanese infiltrators can return safely to their country, and once the agreement is signed, there is no bar in international law to forcibly return them."

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